Updates

Administrative detention

Israel recently agreed to stop renewing the administrative detention of three Palestinians who went on hunger strike to protest being held without trial or time limit. Risking their lives is the only way for such detainees to go free, to challenge the injustice, and to prevent repeated renewal of their detention, given that judicial review is a mere formality. The fact that Israel insists in holding them even on the verge of death belies that argument that they are being held to prevent a threat to public security. This practice must stop.

Malek al-Qadi on the day of his release from administrative detention. Photo by Faiz Abu-Rmeleh, ActiveStills, 24 September 2016.
October 6

On 13 June 2016 Bilal Kayed finished serving a 14½-year prison sentence. His waiting family was then told that he was not being released, and was being placed in administrative detention for six months. Administrative detention is based on classified “evidence” that is not revealed to the detainee, so he cannot refute it, and has no maximum time limit. While Israel has long and widely used this draconian measure, imposing administrative detention immediately after a long prison sentence is exceptionally harsh. Yet the military judges - who are an integral part of the mechanisms of occupation - approved it even in this case.

Rahiba Kayed holding a poster calling for her son’s release. Photo by Salma a-Deb’i, B’Tselem, 21 July 2016
August 7

In October 2015, Israel resumed its use of administrative detention against Palestinian minors, for the first time since December 2011. At the end of April 2016, the IPS was holding 13 – the highest number since August 2008. Administrative detainees are held for indefinite periods of time, without knowing the charges against them and without standing trial. The increase in the number of Palestinians held this way, and the renewed inclusion of minors, is an even greater abuse of this draconian measure than before.

‘A and his mother. Photo courtesy of the family.
July 28

According to Israel Prison Service figures, the last quarter of 2015 saw a marked rise in the number of Palestinians in Israeli custody, including administrative detainees, women and minors: at the end of 2015, 6,066 Palestinians were being held on security grounds, the highest number since July 2010. This includes 584 administrative detainees - the most since September 2008; 422 minors - the most since August 2008 at the latest, and 44 women - the most since September 2009.

March 3

In a letter sent today to the Prime Minister, Hagai Elad criticizes the HCJ ruling rejecting al-Qiq’s request to transfer to a Ramallah hospital. The HCJ justices argued that if the security establishment sought to detain al-Qiq again in the future, this would endanger soldiers’ lives. Elad notes that “This position reflects a new low in the instrumentalist approach to human beings.” The fact that the Court accepted this argument says more about the justices than about its reasonableness.

Muhammad al-Qiq. Photo: courtesy of the family
February 18

On 4 Feb. 2016 the High Court of Justice “suspended” the administrative detention of Muhammad al-Qiq, who has been on hunger strike for 72 days. This vague decision is essentially meaningless: The ruling states that his relatives may visit him in hospital in Israel, but does not oblige Israel to issue them entry permits. Administrative detention orders are subject to judicial review, but the courts usually approve the orders, rarely questioning the security establishment’s position. Even so, in view of al-Qiq’s condition, the HCJ’s evasive legal solution and the refusal to rescind the order are extreme.

Muhammad al-Qiq. Photo: courtesy of the family
February 8

Palestinian journalist Muhammad al-Qiq, 33, has been on hunger strike for 65 days (as of 28 Jan) to protest his arrest. He has been in administrative detention for over a month. According to medical literature, his life is by now in danger. Last week, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected Al-Qiq’s petition for release and refrained from determining, as yet, whether he should be released due to his medical condition. According to recent Israel Prison Service data, 527 Palestinians are currently being held in administrative detention – the highest figure since 2009.

Muhammad al-Qiq. Photo: courtesy of the family
January 28

Op-ed by Yael Stein, Director of B'Tselem’s Research Dept., first published in Ynetnews. In response to allegations that torture was used in interrogating the suspects in the torching of the Dawabsheh family home that killed three people, PM Netanyahu was quick to reassure: “All the investigations are being conducted in accordance with the law”. The question is not whether a given act is in accordance with a specially tailored law. The fact that something is legal does not make it justifiable. Sometimes the fact that something is legal serves only to illustrate the bankruptcy of legislative mechanisms.

Sleep deprivation, one of the “special measures”. Illustration by Ishai Mishory.
December 30

Today (16 Sept.) media reports stated that upon being discharged from hospital, Muhammad ‘Alan – whose administrative detention order was suspended after he staged a two-month hunger strike demanding he be released – was re-detained under a new order. The authorities continue to harass ‘Alan, who had reached a life-threatening condition because of the hunger strike he held to protest the arbitrary denial of his liberty without the benefit of due process. B’Tselem once more urges Israeli authorities to release ‘Alan immediately from administrative detention.

Muhammad 'Alan. Photo: Courtesy of the family.
September 16

Yesterday, 19 Aug. 2015, the Supreme Court suspended ‘Alan’s administrative detention order due to his medical condition. If it is found that the neurological damage is irreversible, the order will be voided. ‘Alan, 30, has been in administrative detention for over nine months and on hunger strike for two to protest the detention which denies his freedom without due process. Administrative detention is detention without trial: ‘Alan has not been indicted; has received no explanation for his imprisonment; and cannot even attempt to prove his innocence. On Friday he lost consciousness. On Tue. he regained it but his life still hangs in the balance. B’Tselem urges Israeli authorities to release ‘Alan immediately.

Muhammad 'Alan. Photo: Curtesy of the family.
August 19

Israel’s administrative detention of extreme right-wing activist Mordechai Mayer and planned administrative detention of two other such activists, reportedly authorized by the Attorney General, is unacceptable. Recent calls to amend the law on this matter and use draconian measures such as administrative detention and illegal interrogation methods convey the impression that Israel’s law enforcement system indeed wishes to prevent settlers from harming Palestinians. However, past experience shows that these steps are meant primarily to create a false show of firm action in order to decrease public criticism, in this case concerning the killing of Palestinian baby ‘Ali Dawabsheh by arson in the West Bank village of Duma.

Settlers in the fields of ‘Asira al-Qibliya. Photo: Omar Qusini, Reuters, 3 July 2011
August 6

On Wed. (29 July) the Knesset voted in favor of a bill permitting to force-feed hunger strikers in cases deemed medically life-threatening. Designed to break the spirit and body of prisoners and administrative detainees who are protesting non-violently, the law tramples the Patients’ Rights Act and human dignity. The Israeli Medical Association said it would petition the HCJ against the law and instruct doctors not to implement it. The bill passed is an awful moral blot. The very thought of its implementation is horrifying. Support for such as bill by the majority of the coalition is a grim, yet accurate, expression of the legislators’ willingness to trample human rights.

July 30

Media reports state that Khader ‘Adnan was released on 12 July 2015, in accordance with the agreement reached by his legal counsel and Israel’s military prosecution, and under which ‘Adnan also ended his hunger strike on 29 June 2015. ‘Adnan, a resident of ‘Araba in the West Bank, was striking to protest being held in administrative detention for a cumulative period of nearly six years, without any charges being brought against him.

Khader ‘Adnan at his bakery. Photo by Oren Ziv, activestills.org, 21 June 2013
July 12

Media reports state that Khader ‘Adnan’s legal counsel and Israel’s military prosecution have reached an agreement whereby ‘Adnan will end his hunger strike immediately and be released from administration detention on 12 July 2015. ‘Adnan, who lives in ‘Araba in the West Bank, was striking to protest being held in administrative detention for a cumulative period of nearly six years, without any charges being brought against him.

Khader ‘Adnan at his bakery. Photo by Oren Ziv, activestills.org, 21 June 2013
June 29

Khader ‘Adnan is on the 49th day of a hunger strike to protest his lengthy administrative detention and there is now fear for his life. Israel is advancing a bill to allow force-feeding in such cases, although the international medical community agrees that this is a prohibited violation of the right to personal autonomy, dignity, and protest. B’Tselem again calls on the government to change its administrative detention policy, which defies international law, instead of drastically punishing people protesting their unlawful detention.

Khader ‘Adnan at his bakery. Photo by Oren Ziv, activestills.org, 21 June 2013
June 23

In May 2014, B’Tselem cautioned that the number of Palestinians held by Israel in administrative detention was rising. At the end of August, after Operation Brother’s Keeper, there were some 473 administrative detainees – the highest number since April 2009. Administrative detention is detention without trial. The security establishment uses it extensively, in breach of the restrictions placed by international law. The government of Israel must release all administrative detainees or prosecute them, in accordance with due process.

October 7

This morning, 22 June 2014, human rights organizations active in the Occupied Territories sent an urgent letter to the heads of the Israeli security establishment and military commanders in the West Bank, demanding that they refrain from collectively punishing the civilian Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as part of Operation Brother’s Keeper. The letter also demanded that the more stringent restrictions imposed on the detention conditions of Palestinian prisoners be withdrawn.

Damages left after a search in Balata refugee camp, Salma a-Dib'i, B'Tselem
June 22

On 9 June 2014, a bill to force feed prisoners passed first reading in the Israeli Knesset. The bill was initiated by the Ministry of Public Security in response to a hunger strike by Palestinian inmates. Force feeding hunger strikers is a violation of their dignity, right to autonomy over their body and right to protest by whatever means they choose. It also violates medical ethics. Instead of punishing people protesting their unlawful detention, Israel should change its administrative detention policy, which defies international law.

Ktziot Prison, where some of the administrative detainees are held. Photo: Yosi I
June 11

On 24 April 2014, Palestinian administrative detainees held in Israel announced a hunger strike to protest Israel’s of administrative detention. According to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society, some 130 are now on strike. Israel is currently holding 191 Palestinians in administrative detention, i.e. without trial, in breach of international law, which allows such imprisonment only in exceptional cases as a last resort to prevent danger. The government must release all administrative detainees or prosecute them, in accordance with due process.

Photo: Ziv Koren
May 11

On Thursday, 26 December 2013, Ahmad Qattamesh was released from administrative detention after being held without trial since May 2011. Qattamesh, 61, a writer from al-Bireh, was already held in administrative detention for over four years in the 1990s. International law permits administrative detention only in highly exceptional cases; a restriction blatantly violated by Israel. B’Tselem calls on Israel to release all administrative detainees, or try them with due process if evidence exists against them.

Ahmad Qattamesh. Photo courtesy of the family.
December 29